February 2, 2013

Harvard issues sanctions in cheating scandal

A high-profile Harvard alumnus criticizes the university for the way it handled the investigation.

The Associated Press

BOSTON - Harvard University said Friday it issued academic sanctions against about 60 students who were forced to withdraw from school for a period of time in a cheating scandal that involved the final exam in a class on Congress.

The school implicated as many as 125 students in the scandal when officials first addressed the issue last year.

The inquiry started after a teaching assistant in a spring semester undergraduate-level government class detected problems in the take-home test, including that students may have shared answers.

In a campus-wide email Friday, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith said the school's academic integrity board had resolved all the cases related to the cheating probe.

He said "somewhat more than half" of the cases involved students who had to withdraw from the college for a period of time. Of the cases left, about half the students got disciplinary probation.

Some athletes became ensnared, including two basketball team co-captains whom the school scratched from its team roster in the wake of the cheating investigation. Past reports in The Harvard Crimson also linked football, baseball and hockey players to the scandal.

Smith said in Friday's email that the school wouldn't discuss specific student cases.

The dean said a school committee is working on recommendations to strengthen a culture of academic honesty and promote ethics in scholarship.

Staples founder Thomas Stemberg, a Harvard graduate whose son is a student, Friday criticized the school's handling of the probe.

"If you challenge the entire faculty at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Law School to come up with a process that took more time, cost more money, embarrassed more innocent students, and vindicated guilty faculty ... that could not have outdone the process that took place," he said.

Stemberg, a supporter of Harvard's basketball team, knows some of the students caught up in the scandal and his son knows others.

He wrote a complaint letter to Harvard's president in early January claiming that the professor who taught the government class changed the rules after several exams in which "open collaboration" was encouraged.

 

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